Tomorrow, on Monday 18th July, there will be a full Town Council Meeting. Nothing overly controverisal there, mainly an update to the postponed flotilla event, some news on the Chestnut Tree by the Coach and Horses, and the possibility of making all future fireworks events on Town council land ‘quiet’.

Naturally it’s this last item which has drawn the widest interest. Recently the Flotilla event was postponed at least partially out of fear of upsetting local wildlife on the river during their nesting season – a claim later found to run contrary to published notices from the RSPB, but in accordance with verbal guidance from local charities.

One solution ‘floated’, and now carried forward to a council motion, was to suggest ‘quiet’ fireworks, as these may also reduce the impact on pets, as well as a number of individuals who are negatively impacted by fireworks and their explosions.

While this sounds like an ideal compromise, let’s have a quick look in to possible side-effects.

So, what exactly is a quiet firework display? A ‘normal’ firework display is generally considered to be around 150 – 175db. A ‘silent’ display still racks in around the 95db mark. Now, as sound is measured on a non-linear scale, this is indeed much quieter. However. 95db is still equivelant to a jackhamer at 15m, so the term ‘silent’ firework is at best misleading. 

An example of a Low Noise firework display

Naturally though, there are large groups of people who may prefer a quieter firework display. Those with autism can struggle with overly loud noises, as do some of our more elderly residents, not to mention those with PTSD – especially from warzones – as well as our four-legged friends, who generally have more sensitive hearing than humans.

In contrast, a large number of people enjoy the fireworks and love the excitement, sights, smells and noises of an organised and well-run event. Events which have run lower-noise events have reported reduced turn-out, complaints on the night, and even an increase in over the counter fireworks being set off by those who feel the organised events no longer cater to their expectations.

So who runs the annual firework display and may be impacted by any decision taken? Well in Wallingford, it’s organised by 1155, our local charitable fundraising body, who also organise the santa sleigh, assist with the litter pick and many other vital events, all of which are enjoyed by thousands of people across the area. They take funds raised from events like these are distribute them to local organisations, acting as a source of funds for several bodies. The most recent fireworks resulted in £25,000 being donated to a very wide range of groups, along with the Sleigh at Christmas which also raised £7,000.

This week, 1155 invited us along to the naming ceremony for a new boat at the Rowing Club. The two person vessel was purchased using funds from 1155, with the club looking to make use of it for their competition crews, allowing them to compete at a higher level – something which they aim to use to promote the club, rowing as a sport, and fitness in our youth and the community. All incredibly good ideals, and all made possible via funds raised from local events, including the annual fireworks.

Having ‘sparked’ a great deal of interest across the town, especially online, it remains that a large number of residents may be unaware of either the council, their work, or indeed decisions and debates which are scheduled and may impact their lives in countless ways. Wallingford Radio has been a keen proponent of  public engagement with local government, as these are your local officials, spending your money and making decisions which affect you.


The new vessel, purchased via funds raised by 1155.
Photo Credit: Phil Pentecost

If you would like to make your voice heard about decisions, including those regarding fireworks, the council meetings have a section at the start for public participation. The meetings are held at the Town Hall, start at 19:00, and the agenda can be found online here.

Wallingford Radio will be bringing you the outcome of the council meeting, and stay tuned to 107.3fm for our full interview from the rowing club!

Wallingford Radio has an ongoing relationship with 1155 as well as Mark Brett personally.